Racial Equality Requires Environmental Justice

November 24, 2020 by  
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Racial Equality Requires Environmental Justice

1% of global population causes 50% of all carbon pollution emitted by the aviation industry

November 20, 2020 by  
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Recent research published in  Global Environmental Change  has revealed that only 1% of people cause half of all aviation pollution globally. According to the study, regular “super emitters” are polluting the environment at the expense of millions of people who do not fly.  The study, conducted through analysis of aviation data, revealed that large populations across all countries did not fly at all in the years observed. For instance, about 53% of Americans did not fly in 2018, yet the U.S. ranked as the leading aviation emission contributor globally. In Germany, 65% of people did not fly, in Taiwan 66%, and in the U.K. about 48% of the population did not fly abroad in the same period.  These findings suggest that the bulk of pollution caused by the aviation industry comes from the actions of very few people. Further supporting this point, the study revealed that only 11% of the global population flew in 2018, while only 4% flew abroad. Comparing these numbers to the level of emission aviation causes indicates that the rich few in society fuel this pollution the most. Meanwhile, marginalized communities will likely face the harshest consequences of this pollution . In 2018, airlines produced a billion tons of CO2. Even worse, the same airlines benefited from a $100 billion subsidy by not paying for the climate change caused. The U.S. tops the list of leading aviation emitter countries, contributing more CO2 to the environment than the next 10 countries on the list. This means that the U.S. alone contributes more aviation-based CO2 than the U.K., Germany, Japan and Australia combined.  Research also indicates that global aviation’s contribution to the climate crisis continues to increase. Before the coronavirus pandemic, emissions caused by flights had grown by 32% between 2013 and 2018. If there are no measures put in place to curb the pollution, these rates will likely continue skyrocketing post-pandemic.  Stefan Gössling of Linnaeus University in Sweden, the study’s lead author, says that the only way of dealing with the issue is by redesigning the aviation industry. “If you want to resolve climate change and we need to redesign [aviation], then we should start at the top, where a few ‘super emitters’ contribute massively to global warming ,” said Gössling. “The rich have had far too much freedom to design the planet according to their wishes. We should see the crisis as an opportunity to slim the air transport system.” + The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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1% of global population causes 50% of all carbon pollution emitted by the aviation industry

Renowned landscape architects unveil designs to save the Tidal Basin

November 20, 2020 by  
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The National Mall Tidal Basin — also known as “America’s front yard” — is home to some of the nation’s most iconic landmarks such as the Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. But the beloved Washington, D.C. public space is under threat from daily flooding and is in urgent need of critical repairs and improvements. In a bid to save the celebrated landscape, five prestigious landscape architecture firms — DLANDstudio, GGN, Hood Design Studio, James Corner Field Operations and Reed Hilderbrand — have been tapped to reimagine the future of the Tidal Basin and National Mall. Keep reading for a preview of all the designs. In 2019, the National Trust for Historic Preservation banded together with the Trust for the National Mall, the National Parks Service, Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) and American Express to launch the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab , an initiative seeking proposals to save the 107-acre Tidal Basin site in Washington, D.C. After months of preparation, the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab recently unveiled visionary proposals from five award-winning landscape architecture firms including New York City-based DLANDstudio, Seattle-based GGN, Oakland-based Hood Design Studio, New York City-based James Corner Field Operations and Cambridge-based Reed Hilderbrand. Each proposal not only responds to the pressing issues plaguing the area’s infrastructure but also examines ways to heighten the visitor experience through improved environmental and cultural considerations. Due to the pandemic, the proposals are presented in an online-only, museum-quality exhibition co-curated by New York City curator of design Donald Albrecht and Thomas Mellins, an architectural historian and independent curator. The public is invited to learn about the Tidal Basin’s history, which was completed in 1887 as a major hydrological feat as well as the ongoing challenges and comprehensive proposals. The public will also be able to give feedback and offer ideas on saving the Tidal Basin. “As part of ‘America’s front yard’, the Tidal Basin is home to some of the most iconic landmarks and traditions in the nation’s capital,” said Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Yet current conditions do not do justice to a landscape of such significance. With this new digital exhibition, we are excited to share and engage the public with creative thinking from five of the best landscape architecture firms in the world. These ideas explore ways to sustain this cultural landscape and its richly layered meanings for generations to come. This isn’t preservation as usual: this is preservation as innovation.” Related: BIG unveils sweeping overhaul to Smithsonian Campus Master Plan True to its name, the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab will be focused on cultivating bold ideas and promoting dialogue between designers, stakeholders and the public rather than choosing a single winner as is typical in design competitions. The exhibition will supplement the National Park Service’s mandated environmental review of the Tidal Basin as well as master planning and detailed design, which have not yet been completed but are integral to securing funding for construction and implementation. All five creative concepts, revealed late last month, celebrate and raise awareness of the Tidal Basin’s long history and have reimagined the cultural landscape to better meet modern safety and accessibility needs while addressing critical infrastructure repairs and improvements. DLANDstudio’s proposal makes bold steps of introducing extensions to the landscape in both the Tidal Basin and the Potomac River to reorient circulation. A long land bridge would connect the Jefferson Memorial and the White House, while a new jetty to the west would branch off of the Lincoln Memorial to house the relocated memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. Flooding would be mitigated with sponge park wetlands , a reflective weir and a green security wall. GGN’s vision is an adaptive plan phased across three stages to conclude in 2090. The design uses ecological solutions to protect the landscape from forecasted sea level changes and also the potential adaptation and relocation of existing monuments. James Corner Field Operations has proposed three ideas for combating rising sea levels : Protect & Preserve, a scheme to keep the existing landscape intact with improved maintenance and engineering; Island Archipelago, in which flooding would be accepted as an inevitable reality and monuments would be elevated and treated as islands within the Tidal Basin; and Curate Entropy, another design where the site is allowed to flood and a careful balance is maintained between the Tidal Basin’s existing layout and the new landscape. Hood Design Studio focuses on reshaping the Tidal Basin with underrepresented narratives, from the stories of how wetlands were valued by Indigenous and enslaved peoples to promoting dialogue on rebuilding urban ecologies. Reed Hilderbrand’s design draws on the 1902 McMillan Plan, a comprehensive planning document that strongly influenced the urban planning and design of Washington, D.C., particularly with its proposal for a “Washington Commons,” a diverse and connected regional park system. The plan also encourages new interactions with the landscape with an uplands Cherry Walk, a Memorial Walk, a Marsh Walk and a new landform called Independence Rise that would accommodate rising water levels and connect back to the city with a pedestrian bridge. + Tidal Basin Ideas Lab Images via Tidal Basin Ideas Lab

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Renowned landscape architects unveil designs to save the Tidal Basin

Earth911 Podcast: Deterra’s Nancy Devine Talks About Safe Drug Disposal

November 6, 2020 by  
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Pharmaceuticals represent a growing source of pollution that impacts the … The post Earth911 Podcast: Deterra’s Nancy Devine Talks About Safe Drug Disposal appeared first on Earth 911.

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How You Can Help Protect Our Oceans

November 4, 2020 by  
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A healthy ocean means healthy humans.We depend on the ocean … The post How You Can Help Protect Our Oceans appeared first on Earth 911.

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Artist creates mesmerizing paintings using coal pollution from local streams

October 15, 2020 by  
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You gaze at a vibrant collision of color. Are you looking at the Earth? Is this bacteria under a microscope? Is it a distant galaxy through the lens of a telescope? Or could it be a rainbow of unique pigments created from none other than a stream of coal mine pollution? As it turns out, this series of art by John Sabraw reflects many meanings, and it symbolizes a deep commitment to the planet. You see, the art is in fact made using pigments derived from the iron oxide in acid mine drainage. In beautiful southeastern Ohio, an area lush with trees and rolling hills dotted with small towns throughout, defunct  coal mines  have left their mark on the environment years after their closures. But a group of artists, engineers and dedicated community members are finding ways to clean up the pollution and turn it into something meaningful. A stream of pollution Back around 2007,  Sabraw , an artist and professor at Ohio University, began working with a local environmental group after years of working with environmentalists and scientists on various projects. The group, called Kanawha, toured southeastern Ohio, and Sabraw was instantly struck by the smelly, red-orange  pollution  in many of the region’s streams.  Related: #degrowth art series exposes greenwashing in the food industry “This is mainly iron oxide, that is the heavy metal polluting the  stream ,” Sabraw told Inhabitat. “Most of the earth-based pigments I use are made of iron oxide, so I took some with me and played with them in the studio. This is the first time I started thinking this could be turned into pigments or paint product.” As it turns out, another Ohio University professor,  Guy Riefler , was already using his skills as an environmental engineer to turn the iron oxide from the acid mining drainage into paint. The two professors connected and began working on a new project together that would both create a viable product and clean up the streams: a win-win. What is acid mine drainage? But where is all of this iron oxide coming from, and why is it a problem? “It comes from abandoned and improperly sealed coal mines,” Sabraw explained. There are many abandoned  coal mines  not just throughout southeastern Ohio but around the world. When it rains, water leaches into these underground mines, where it picks up heavy metals before finding its way to the surface and draining into aquatic habitats. “ Aquatic life  is very sensitive to pH. They want to be around 7 pH or even lower on occasion, but acidic water is around pH 2 to pH 4,” Sabraw said. “They can’t live in that environment. The second thing is iron oxide gets to the surface of the water and is activated by sunlight. There is more oxygen in the atmosphere. Instead of dissolving, the iron becomes crystalized onto the creekbed. That covered creekbed inhibits growth; very few things can live in that.” Saving aquatic life That’s what makes the project so crucial. Removing the iron oxide will help return the streams to their natural state, where aquatic life can thrive. With iron oxide present, you’re unlikely to find any  fish  swimming around in these streams. So Sabraw, Riefler and groups of volunteers visit Appalachian streams to collect iron oxide and turn it into something useful. On a small scale, they go collect the iron oxide deposits on creek beds, then wash and purify it before neutralizing the acidity. The result? A product that is over 98% pure iron oxide with very few contaminants. The iron oxide is cooked at extremely high temperatures to remove any remaining biomatter. They are also working on  building a multi-million dollar facility  that can mimic this collection and purification process on a much larger scale. In fact, the goal is to produce pigments that they can sell to generate enough money to cover the cost of pollution cleanups. Another goal is to insert pumps in the old mines that will access the iron oxide before it ever leaves the source. Clean, safe water will then be returned to the streams and creeks. Cleaning up for the community There can sometimes be a disconnect between the  local community  and those affiliated with the university. But luckily, that hasn’t been the case with this project. Sabraw, Riefler and their team hope the planned facility will create local jobs and clean up the streams, where families can fish and play. The facility will double as an educational center and will include a wetland sculpture park that will even display the impacts of climate change, particularly during seasonal flooding. The local response has been overwhelmingly positive. “[These communities] remember when they played in clean creeks and fished for dinner. They remember it changing, becoming orange and acidic; they’d jump in to swim and come out with orange underwear,” Sabraw said. “This is not some place that they are skipping in to do a job and leave. This is home, this is heart.” Their work has also garnered international attention. “More than anything else, artists want to know how they can do something similar, take the ability to think differently, spatially, and apply it to issues in our world.” Pollution becomes art Sabraw has used the iron oxide pigments in his own series of  artworks , which feature mesmerizing, swirling patterns of color confined within circles. Aside from the direct inspiration from the polluted streams, Sabraw approaches his work with a sustainable mindset. “We are in a critical era,” Sabraw told Inhabitat. “There’s no time left to decide that we want to work to consciously and purposefully create a sustainable future for humans on this planet. My concerns surround the ways I can attack this myself and open my abilities up to other experiences and ideas to collectively create a new way of living on the planet together.” The art showcases how many things on this planet are happening simultaneously to create “a sense of wonder, openness and also mystery and a question of purpose.” Making a difference one stream at a time Beyond the art, Sabraw and Riefler hope the project expands beyond the borders of Ohio and across not just the country but the globe. While streams worldwide may have varying chemistries, the  technology  could be applied to abandoned mines everywhere. If you’re sitting there wondering whether or not to focus your own work on sustainability, Sabraw says, without a doubt, to do so. “There’s a funny phrase that if you are the smartest person in a room, you are in the wrong room. I’ve never been in the wrong room. I’m not the smartest guy ever. Artists need to decide they can be in a space that is uncomfortable and still have a major impact on how things happen.” + John Sabraw Photography by Ashley Stottlemyer, Ben Siegel, John Sabraw and Gamblin via John Sabraw

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Artist creates mesmerizing paintings using coal pollution from local streams

How 2 gadgets are going to change China and the world

October 14, 2020 by  
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Pollution. Smog. Dirty air. It’s all around us. Sometimes, you can see the pollution hanging in the air. Pollution is a huge public health problem, especially in China. But how big is the problem? There’s no precise answer to that question. At least, not yet. A couple of amazing new inventions may just change that. Many of the world’s most polluted cities are in China. It’s the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and in 2014, the country far exceeded the national standard for pollution suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO). It isn’t always easy to get accurate pollution ratings through standard methods employed by the Chinese government. Enter the Pollution Ranger. This little machine is a self-powered air quality monitor that can be placed on cars to collect data on air pollution everywhere it goes. Related: How clean is your indoor air? The Pollution Ranger is designed for full transparency of data. Anyone can use a smartphone app to access the data gathered by the device. You can use the information to check out pollution levels in your current location, or use the app to find data on a place you’re going to. Want to know how much pollution is the air? Smog Shade makes it easier to visually see exactly how polluted the air around you is. This is an installation with a sleek, circular design that shows air quality in real-time. The shade darkens to indicate how much pollution is in the air; the darker the shade is, the more polluted the air is. The Smog Shade is accessible via app as well. The app allows users to view overall city pollution or pollution levels in specific locations all over the city. Both of these inventions were designed by Huachen Xin. Xin spoke about some of the applications for the gadgets, saying, “People have the right to know the genuine air quality [around them]…based on this data, they could choose whether they need to move in or out of where they currently live. City managers could also use the data as clues to find out realtime pollution, for example, or track illegal emissions during the night.” According to Xin, the Chinese government doesn’t always offer precise pollution measurements. Sometimes, air quality monitors are purposefully put in areas where the air is cleaner. Monitors installed in parks, on rooftops and on islands in the middle of lakes aren’t getting accurate readings of city streets and neighborhoods. One study published in Lancet estimated that as many as 1.24 million deaths in China in the year 2017 were caused by air pollution. That’s a huge public health risk, and that’s why accurate pollution monitoring matters. Putting pollution data in the hands of everyone could have another effect — it shows people the reality of pollution. Hard data and accurate numbers are pretty hard to ignore. Xin hopes that real-time pollution data will encourage people to change their daily habits and help work toward reducing pollution levels. If the first step to improving air quality is raising awareness of how bad the air actually is, then devices like the Pollution Ranger and Smog Shade are going to change the world … and not a moment too soon. + Huachen Xin Images via Huachen Xin

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How 2 gadgets are going to change China and the world

PPE Use Protects Us Against Coronavirus, but It’s Harming the Oceans

October 8, 2020 by  
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Did you know that 91% of the plastic produced has … The post PPE Use Protects Us Against Coronavirus, but It’s Harming the Oceans appeared first on Earth 911.

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PPE Use Protects Us Against Coronavirus, but It’s Harming the Oceans

This new cooling technology also prevents viral spread

October 8, 2020 by  
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This new cooling technology also prevents viral spread Gloria Oladipo Thu, 10/08/2020 – 00:40 In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air-conditioned cooling centers . Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus. “Air conditioners look like they’re bringing in air from the outside because they go through the window, but it is 100 percent recirculated air,” said Forrest Meggers, an assistant professor of architecture at Princeton University. “If you had a system that could cool without being focused solely on cooling air, then you could actually open your windows.” Meggers and an international team of researchers have developed a safer way for people to beat the heat — a highly efficient cooling system that doesn’t move air around. Scientists lined door-sized panels with tiny tubes that circulate cold water. Stand next to a panel, and you can feel it drawing heat away from your body. Unlike air conditioners, these panels can be used with the window open — or even outdoors — making it possible to cool off while also getting some fresh air. This reduces the risk of spreading airborne viruses, such as the coronavirus. “If you look at what the health authorities and governments are saying, the safest place to be during this pandemic is outside,” said Adam Rysanek, an assistant professor of environmental systems at the University of British Columbia who was part of the research effort. “We’re trying to find a way to keep you cool in a heat wave with the windows wide open, because the air is fresh. It’s just that it’s hot.” Cooling panels have been around for a while, but in limited use, because scientists haven’t found a good way to deal with condensation. Like a cold can of Coke on a hot summer day, cooling panels collect drops of water, so they have to be paired with dehumidifiers indoors to stay dry. Otherwise, overhead panels might drip water on people standing underneath. Meggers and his colleagues got around this problem by developing a thin, transparent membrane that repels condensation. This is the key breakthrough behind their cooling technology. Because it stays dry, it can be used in humid conditions, even outdoors. We’re trying to find a way to keep you cool in a heat wave with the windows wide open, because the air is fresh. In air conditioners, a dehumidifier dries out the air to prevent condensation. This component uses an enormous amount of energy, around half of the total power consumed by the air conditioner, researchers said. The new membrane they developed eliminates condensation with no energy cost, making the cooling panels significantly more efficient than a typical AC unit. The research team involved scientists from the University of British Columbia, Princeton, UC Berkeley, and the Singapore-ETH Centre. They published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “This study demonstrates that we can maintain comfortable conditions for people without cooling all the air around them,” said Zoltan Nagy, an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Texas who was not affiliated with the study. “Probably the most significant demonstration of this study is that humans can be provided with comfort in a very challenging thermal environment using a very efficient method.” Researchers developed their technology for use in the persistently hot, muggy climate of Singapore, where avoiding condensation would be particularly difficult. To test their design, they assembled a set of cooling panels into a small tunnel, roughly the size of a school bus. The tunnel, dubbed the “Cold Tube,” sat in a plaza in the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore. Scientists surveyed dozens of people about how they felt after walking through the tunnel. Even as the temperature neared 90 degrees F outside, most participants reported feeling comfortable in the Cold Tube. We can maintain comfortable conditions for people without cooling all the air around them. Scientists said they want to make their technology available to consumers as quickly as possible, for use in homes and offices, or outdoors. Climate change is producing more severe heat , which is driving demand for air conditioners. Researchers hope their cooling panel will offer a more energy-efficient alternative to AC units. If consumers can use less power, that will help cut down on the pollution that is driving climate change. Before they can sell the panels, researchers said they need to make them hardy enough to survive outdoors. The anti-condensation membrane is currently so thin that you could tear it with a pencil, so it must be made stronger. Scientists also need to demonstrate that the panels work efficiently indoors. Hospitals and schools in Singapore already have shown interest in the cooling system. “We know the physics works. Now we need to do one more test so we have a bit more of a commercially viable product,” Rysanek said. “It’s really about trying to get this into people’s hands as quickly as possible.” Pull Quote We’re trying to find a way to keep you cool in a heat wave with the windows wide open, because the air is fresh. We can maintain comfortable conditions for people without cooling all the air around them. Topics HVAC Nexus Media News Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Cooling panels draw heat away from people standing nearby. Lea Ruefenach Close Authorship

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Earth911 Inspiration: Paying for the Costs of Dealing With Pollution

September 18, 2020 by  
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Today’s Earth911 inspiration is from economist Ha-Joon Chang: “People ‘over-produce’ … The post Earth911 Inspiration: Paying for the Costs of Dealing With Pollution appeared first on Earth 911.

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Earth911 Inspiration: Paying for the Costs of Dealing With Pollution

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